Whether you’re on the hunt for homemade meatballs or just sick of looking for parking in the North End and looking elsewhere for Italian, Orfano in the Fenway offers an upscale Italian-American dining experience where red sauce and black tie get along just fine. Step into the ground level of the Pierce Boston tower, where you’ll be greeted by a smiling bartender in a snazzy jacket who’ll be happy to whip you up the perfect martini while you await your appetizer.
Italian for “orphan”, Orfano isn’t bound by regional allegiance, so you’ll find goodies from all over the map on the menu. And while the vibe is high class, the food likes to have a little fun. Instead of the same old traditional tropes, you’ll find the best bits of Italian flavor presented with local ingredients in a whole range of unexpected ways (think fresh bread service out of a paper bag). But just because they do things a little differently doesn’t mean your carb-fix is at risk—pastas (like the rest of the selections) are homemade and range from classic to seasonally-inspired, and the “Macelleria” section of hand-roasted meats won’t leave you hungry. Desserts, whether you’re in the mood for a sundae or something fresh from the pastry chef, don’t disappoint in size or scrumptiousness.
At first blush, Orfano reads more like a swanky social club than anywhere you’re likely to get olive oil on your tie. Dark, austere walls and gilded light fixtures loom over bow-tied, white-shirted waiters. But the energy is warm and friendly and, if you look closely, you’ll find the decor is having a good time too. There are portraits (some raunchier than others) of strong women around the room, nodding to the restaurant group’s focus on inclusivity and female leadership. Those elegant golden light fixtures are actually giant artichokes. Like the menu, the room is fancy with a smirk.
If you’re thirsty at Orfano, they’ll bring the bar right to you. There’s an old-timey martini cart wandering around the dining room, and if you order one you can watch the chilled, delicious magic happen while your drink is prepared tableside. No matter where you’re sitting, the cocktail list leans heavily on classics like martinis and cobblers, proving that everything old can be new again—most of the drinks on the list are tried-and-true, with a few creative curveballs thrown in. The wine list favors the foreign side of Italian-American, favoring small productions from all across Italy and its islands, and shoring up the corners with a few state-side selections and a long list of Champagne for those impromptu celebrations that call for nothing else.
Orfano serves dinner from 5 to 10pm Sunday through Thursday, and 5-11 Friday and Saturday.
1391 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215